“Celebrating and Making Black Life Around Women‘s History“
As the first and second month of 2021 has ended and Women’s History Month has begun, we’ve shared some major and unforgettable news and events.
On January 20th, 2021, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn in as our 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris as our first woman Vice President and the first woman of color. Two weeks prior to the Inauguration, an insurrection on the Capital occurred. All the events leading up to it, sought to cast a dark and dreary shadow over democracy. President Biden and Madame Vice-President Kamala Harris won their race. They won it fair and square. The American people spoke loud and clear. It was the first unprecedented race of its kind. The most ever registered voters in history stood in line at the polls to cast their ballots. Doubt, darkness, and fear was crushed to the earth as courage walked in.
Thursday, January 28th, around 11:00 p.m. was when I first learned the news about the death of national treasure Cicely Tyson. My first response was No! I don’t ever recall yelling a resounding no since the death of my oldest nephew’s passing. Unlike the legendary Cicely, his life was cut far too short. And, unlike the screeching bellow that filled the halls of the hospital over the death of my precious Dawon, my cry in response was not that of Cicely. Yet, I moaned. Nevertheless, the next morning, I woke up feeling like I had lost a family member; a close but distant relative.
College friends knew of my love for Cicely Tyson. I sent out a text among us sharing sadness but gratefulness too. One friend responded, “I do know how you loved yourself some Cicely Tyson. I thought you guys were family.” My response, “OMG! You’re blessing me. To think that you remembered after all these years how much I loved me some Cicely Tyson.” I went on to mention the picture I had of Cicely in my college dorm room. I shared my experience of actually waking up feeling like I had lost a family member. Finally, I said, “So girl, you are dead on today!” She said, “Everyone knew,” referring to our circle of college friends.
By wakes morning, “Everyone knew.” The world knew of Miss Tyson’s passing. If they didn’t know then, they quickly found out. News reports of every major station flooded the airwaves and stormed social media. Hailed words of honor and raw emotions by celebrities like Viola Davis, Oprah Winfrey, and Shonda Rhimes were widely expressed.
I could not imagine anyone not knowing who this 96-year-old trailblazing black beauty and cultural icon was. She had shined a film and television light for the world to see. I cannot imagine anyone across generations not knowing about this dignified and poised phenomenon. I can’t fathom anyone not seeing, hearing about, or watching her plethora of plays, film and television acumens. For example, her performance in 2013’s Broadway production, The Trip to Bountiful where she was the oldest person at 88 to ever receive a Tony Award. Other outstanding performances preceded and proceeded: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Sounder, miniseries, Roots and King; A Woman Called Moses, The Marva Collins Story, and the mother to character Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder, to name a few.
Cicely’s highest honors were when she received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2015 and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award from President Barack Obama in 2016 at age 92. After receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, she said, “I could not ask for anything better than this.”
Two days before closing her eyes to a very full life, her memoir “Just As I Am” was released, and published only weeks before her death. It sold out on Amazon just one day after her demise. In book stores and warehouses everywhere it was sold out only days after. Miss Tyson is still pioneering even in her death. If no one knew, everyone knows now. She has left her life story with us to carry out her rich legacy.
In one of her last interviews, Gail King from CBS This Morning asked, “When the time comes, what do you want us to remember about you?” Her response, “I done my best.” Ms. Cicely have certainly done that and more.
“I was determined to do all I could to alter the narrative about Black people – to change the way Black women in particular were perceived, by reflecting our dignity.”